Christian Vocabulary: I can’t understand an eternal damnation word you’re saying



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Something interesting and a little funny occurred to me a few years ago while attending a church service. I discovered “Christian words.” Christian words are those that are only understood by “Christians.”  

Since that day, I have been aware of a certain dialect that leaders in church use and if new members of the church aren’t using this dialect when the arrive on day 1, they soon will be going off in no time at all.  Some call this phenomenon that is sweeping the nation, “God Talk” or Christianese. It can be likened to the specific wordage that is unique to corporate America, such as productivity quotients, hyper-tasking, and pace setter.  It’s a whole new way of talking, like slang amongst are youth; only it catches on just within church buildings and between church folk. These words certainly have a shelf life though, just like slang words (who uses the word “phat” anymore) and usually die out when a cool white guy comes up with a new zinger.

Here’s an example: 

Bill:  Steve, I love our church and how we do life together.

Steve: Brother, I echo that and I’m astounded by the way we are shepherded and poured into.  I have a holy hunch that we are about to see a revival.  It will totally be a God thing.  I’m psyched.  

Bill: I know!  What’s so cool is that we are in serious rhythms of life, living in community, being prayer warriors, on mission together.  I’m passionate about being missional.  God is so in this.  

Steve: Let’s get inside, Pastor Mike is bringing it.  He’s going to cast some vision today and unpack some serious techniques for us to come against and push back against the enemy.  I’m ready to be molded and shaped as the Holy Spirit brings spiritual bling to our crib.  (I made up that last one.  Hopefully, it catches on.)

Also here’s a great article by Mark Driscoll about the Christianese

Now Steve and Bill know what they are saying and I totally see how having a way to articulate goals and mission is helpful.  It is even fruitful to keep things fresh and new with our words, just like singing a new song to God.  This is because we should always be searching for new avenues to bring Him glory. Even though you’ll find me using Christianese every now and again, my only problem is this;  if someone doesn’t know this vocabulary, they are screwed because the will likely be weirded out, intimidated, or even scared. (What exactly are you pouring in me?)

The Bible was translated into English and tons of different languages, so that Non-Hebrews could understand the text more clearly.  We need to take the same approach, shying away from presenting ourselves as a clique that uses special lingo that identifies us as the “in crowd” of the church, even if this isn’t our intentions. It’s a turn off.  We are to be salt of the earth.  Salt enhances and complements the taste of food.  I don’t see how Christianese complements and enhances a world that simply needs Jesus.  

Be careful making fun of Christianese though, because Christians will pursue you.  




What do you think?

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